Dissonance

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Dissidia: Final Fantasy and all associated characters are property of Square Enix. This is a nonprofit work.

A/N: Inspired by Chaos's dream in Shade Impulse. No I haven't finished the game yet. I'm aware people may be out of character, but I'm tired of having to work at making good fanfic. That's partly why PYLO has not been updated in forever and, if I get bored enough, may be retconned from about chapter 90 onwards. But enough with the idle threats. Onwards with the story!

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Chapter One

The raven arrived when Sephiroth was just finishing up the final sharpening on the last two feet of the Masamune. Unusually poite for one of Chaos's creatures, it landed on a nearby tree and just cocked its head at him until he noticed it, which was of course immediately. Then it fluffed its wings and preened itself, which gave Sephiroth a good look at the slim red metal tubes tied around its legs.

Sephiroth finished the final sharpening and set the whetstone down on the bench. He lived apart from the rest of Chaos's minions, not because he was particularly trusted but because less bloodshed happened that way. Sephiroth thought he was innocuous, but apparently he irritated certain high-strung people just by existing. Thus, isolation. Not that he minded.

Still, every now and then, Chaos sent him a line to make sure he was alive and obedient. When Sephiroth held out his arm, the raven fluttered over and landed on him, fixing his beady black eyes on Sephiroth's bright green ones. Then, almost imperiously, it stuck its leg out at him. Sephiroth touched the tube with his free hand.

"Come back," said Chaos's deep voice in his mind. "I have need of you."

The raven put its leg back down and looked at Sephiroth expectantly. Sephiroth stroked its broad, glossy head for a moment before lightly throwing his arm into the air. The bird flew off and for a moment Sephiroth considered picking up the Masamune and slicing the thing in half. Because even though it was only a bird, it had come from Chaos and that annoyed him. But, it was only a bird.

So Sephiroth rose, put on his coat, and went to the Black Palace of his master.

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If Sephiroth had had a soul he'd cared about, he'd have feared for it in Chaos's presence. As it was, he still felt a deep, disquieting chill in his visceral organs whenever he stood before Chaos, which fortunately was not very often. Sephiroth wasn't sure how Mateus, Garland, or any of the others managed it. Were they so used to this cold chill that they just didn't notice it anymore? Or had their perception of it simply frozen and broken off? That bore some thinking. Did you lose pieces of yourself every time you stood before Chaos?

Chaos was in the Throne when Sephiroth arrived in the Black Palace, like usual. Like always. Sephiroth stood before him and waited for Chaos to speak, but like usual and always, he couldn't stop himself from looking at Chaos's arms. One of them was reclining on the black marble armest of the Throne. Two were in Chaos's lap. And the last one was propping up Chaos himself as the avatar of the God of Chaos sat meditately in his throne. In a lesser being, it would have been described as 'lounging'.

"Prompt, as always," said Chaos. Behind his almost disturbingly mellifluous voice was something Sephiroth had never heard before, and Sephiroth's hearing and memory were excellent. He sharpened his focus. "You look well, Sephiroth."

"Thank you."

Chaos shifted in the Throne, and with that small movement, Sephiroth's sense of unease quadrupled. It occurred to him then that Sephiroth had never seen Chaos out of the Throne. He had legs--surely he used them. Sephiroth wondered if his unease was due to Chaos or the symbol of his power.

"I summoned you for a specific task," said Chaos. "Sephiroth, one of your greatest strengths is a swift death, is it not?"

What the hell kind of question was that? "If not my greatest."

"Excellent," said Chaos. "The others, well... They have their uses. But you..."

Then Chaos did something very strange. Something that made Sephiroth take notice. He shifted again. Once could be passed off as making himself comfortable, but twice was nervousness. What could make Chaos nervous? Sephiroth began to get a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"You are to travel to the lands of Cosmos," said Chaos. "And kill a certain... Person."

And what person could make Chaos nervous? Sephiroth could think of only one, but...

"You know of whom I speak," said Chaos. "I see it in your eyes."

Sephiroth took a chance. "May I speak?"

"You may."

"I believe this is unwise," said Sephiroth.

"Of course it's unwise," said Chaos with what might have been humor. "But you can do it, can't you?"

"I..." Sephiroth swallowed. "I don't know if I can kill a goddess."

"Mmm."

And just like that, fear swept over Sephiroth. He fought to control his breathing and the sudden shaking in his hands as Chaos's eyes narrowed infinitesimally in displeasure.

"You will need a suitable weapon," said Chaos. He waved one of his four hands and a sword appeared in the air above his palm. It was short, broad-bladed, and glowed like flame along the edges. At first glance, it looked like a ridiculous ornamental "weapon". But it radiated dread like Chaos and the Throne. Sephiroth did not want to touch it.

"This is one of my own," said Chaos. The blade fell to rest in his massive, thickly muscled hand and seemed to meld into him. It was as natural to him as the Masamune was to Sephiroth. Sephiroth watched, mesmerized, as Chaos ran one of his palms along the edge. Blood--Chaos's blood was black and sluggish, like oil.

"You should have no problems killing a goddess with this," said Chaos, wiping his blood from the edge with his fingers. "Take it with you, for the final blow."

Oh, no. No, no, no. But Sephiroth's feet dragged him forward, and even as his skin shuddered away from the hilt of the god-wounding blade, Sephiroth's hand closed around it. The small part of Sephiroth's mind that always remained cold and aware noticed that his hand did not shake. So his body had not totally betrayed him. And just like that, his tongue was free.

"Lord Chaos, why?"

Chaos glared at him. Outright glared. His eyes burst from smoldering embers into full flame and his thick lips drew over his pointed teeth in a bestial snarl. He leaned forward in the Throne, putting his face closer to Sephiroth's than it had even been in all Sephiroth's years of service. Though Sephiroth stood taller than Chaos in the Throne, the silver-haired man still felt like shrinking.

"You dare question me?" In contrast, Chaos's voice was low and almost conversational.

"You gave me leave to speak," said Sephiroth softly.

Chaos exhaled through his teeth. Sephiroth expected to smell brimstone and rotting meat. Instead he smelled...nothing. Not even a hint of morning breath. Sephiroth found that frightening, because everything had a smell. Everything living.

"The reasons should be obvious," said Chaos, settling back into the Throne. Sephiroth breathed a little easier, albeit shakily.

"But not the timing," said Sephiroth. "Has something happened?"

Chaos drummed his fingers on one of the Throne's dark armrests. "You are not like the others," said Chaos finally. "Why do you oppose me?"

"I only want to know the reason I'm being used," said Sephiroth.

Chaos drummed his fingers again. His thick talons thunked dully against the stone, gleaming wickedly black in the throne room's lights. His demonic visage was tensed in strange lines of contemplation.

"I see," said Chaos. "Don't we all. Very well then, Sephiroth. Cosmos must die because she...She disturbs me."

What? Sephiroth tried to wrap his mind around the statement. "Hasn't she always?"

"No," he said. "She hasn't. Before I could tolerate her existence, but now..."

This was all very strange. Sephiroth couldn't stop himself from asking, "Has she done something to you? To our land?"

"No," said Chaos. Then he laughed, which nearly startled Sephiroth out of his skin. "No, she hasn't. And yet she has. So, she must die."

"I...see." Actually no, he didn't.

"The Witch's Mirror tells us that the current Cosmos has chosen her successor," said Chaos. "The balance will not be upset should she die."

"The WItch's Mirror?"

"A toy of Ultimecia's," said Chaos. "A scrying tool of some use. It is...handy for keeping an eye on those of the light."

Like the trickling of the sand in an hourglass, little facts and peculiar notions began to fall into place. The cold and aware part of Sephiroth's mind watched as Chaos saw the truth forming on Sephiroth's face and in turn, started to get tense about it.

"Go now and kill Cosmos," said Chaos. "That is my order."

"Is it really necessary?"

Chaos glared again, but for some reason it seemed less powerful to Sephiroth. Perhaps that was because Sephiroth felt like laughing on the inside.

"In my experience, once you get to know someone, you don't want them nearly as much."

Chaos slammed his fist on the Throne. Sephiroth was startled, but he did not jump or flee. "You presume too much!" Chaos snarled. "Do you wish to die, Sephiroth?"

"Is knowing what I know really worth killing me?"

A deep, thundering growl tore its way from Chaos's throat and minutes before, Sephiroth would have been trembling. Yet now... Now...

"Augh!" Chaos grunted and sank into the Throne. "This is ridiculous. All of it."

"Lord Chaos, you are the avatar of the God of Chaos," said Sephiroth. "But before that, you were and still are a man. These things happen."

Chaos scowled at him, but there was no deadly ire in his eye. One nice thing you could say about Chaos was that he was honest and fair, in his own terrible and swift way. It was why Sephiroth respected him before he feared him.

"Do you really want me to kill her?" Asked Sephiroth.

"No..." Chaos pinched the bridge of his nose. "Don't. She's done nothing."

The urge to say 'she's done something, alright' had never been stronger, but Sephiroth kept his mouth shut.

"I will kill you if you say anything about this," said Chaos, his eyes flicking to Sephiroth.

"About what, Lord Chaos?"

Chaos's mouth twitched. "Funny. Leave, Sephiroth. I have no use for you."

Sephiroth saluted and exited the throneroom on foot. He could have teleported back home, but he wanted time to think about what had just happened. Despite what he'd said to Chaos about being a man and things happening, he was still floored by what had just happened. Chaos...was infatuated with Cosmos. Stranger things had probably happened, but Sephiroth was not aware of them.

Clank clank clank. Sephiroth's ears pricked at the noise. It was never hard to hear someone in armor coming, but it took a very fine ear to distinguish between different armor-wearers. Fortunately, Sephiroth had that sort of detail-oriented mind, so he knew it was Garland coming up behind him and not Mateus, Golbez, or Gabranth. He turned around just in time to see Garland reaching out for him, presumably to wrench him around. Or tap him on the shoulder.

"Sephiroth," said Garland. His voice was a low rumble like Chaos's, but less refined. "You have been to see Chaos?"

"I have."

Garland exhaled. "Good," he said firmly. As his hand fell back to his side, he said, "I will rest easier tonight, knowing the matter is taken care of."

Sephiroth inclined his head just a little. Garland would take the gesture for one of approval or agreement. In actuality, Sephiroth was intrigued. If Sephiroth, the most distant of Chaos's generals, and Garland, the closest of them all, knew that Chaos liked Cosmos, who else knew? Everyone in between? Probably not. Then again, people eavesdropped. People gossiped.

"Sephiroth."

Sephiroth twitched as Chaos's voice boomed in his head again. Apparently Garland heard it too, because he also jumped in his armor.

"Return," said Chaos.

Sephiroth shrugged internally and happened to glance at Garland. The armored man seemed tense. Perhaps he'd sensed not all was well. No, he knew it.

Sephiroth walked back to the throneroom. To his great surprise, Chaos was out of the Throne and pacing. He was shockingly quiet for a such a large man. Demon. Four-armed demon. When Sephiroth came in, Chaos waved one his four arms and there was a growl of stone rising out of the floor. Sephiroth knew without looking at the entryway to the throneroom had closed.

"You said that once you know someone, you desire them less," said Chaos, not looking up from his pacing. "Why?"

"The wanting is usually more pleasant than the having," said Sephiroth. "When you have something, you know its flaws or how it can be better. When you merely want it, it's the best thing in the world."

"Interesting," said Chaos. "So how would I...?"

Sephiroth shrugged. "You could meet her, perhaps? Parley between our sides is not without precedent."

"Leaving the Throne unattended would be unwise," said Chaos.

Sephiroth wondered why that was, but wasn't stupid enough to ask. It wasn't likely Chaos would give him an honest answer, anyway, especially if it pertained to the Sucession.

"You could..." Sephiroth wondered what normal people did to express their feelings. "Send...A letter?"

"A letter?"

"My apologies, Lord Chaos," said Sephiroth. "It is a pretty stupid idea."

"No, it's..." Chaos rubbed his chin and folded his arms at the same time. "It has its merits. You have the power of teleportation, do you not?"

Sephiroth sensed he would either be hating his life or having the time of it in the next few hours. "I do. Should I sit down and make myself comfortable?"

Chaos lifted one heavily developed brow at him as though to say "My, aren't you a cheeky one", but aloud all he said was, "That might be wise."

"I have a book of poetry from an old friend," said Sephiroth. "If you'd like, I could--"

"NO."

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A/N: I wrote out most of the story during slow times at work. The entire thing is planned out. I wrote this chapter, however, while listening to "Prisencolininsinainciosol", which is an amazing piece of music that would probably make a really interesting linguistic study for some language class. If you haven't heard it already, it's a freakishly catchy and fun music that is pure gibberish, much like the loituma/Leekspin song. However, it is made to sound like English. IT BLOWS MY MIND.

Also, the title for this fic comes from SilverWhirl, who commented there was a weird dissonance between the silliness of the situation and the seriousness of the narrative. Oh, and the fact that it sounds like Dissidia doesn't hurt either.

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